Wednesday, March 11, 2015

News and commentaries, 2015-03-11

By Zhao Yifang (Frank Zhao, a freelance journalist based in BC)
1, The problem between mainland and Hong Kong is deep and the media takes advantage of the situation and makes it worse. They worsen a political issue to ethnic antagonism and they bring ethnic antagonism to a higher level. However, they make money from the same thing -- clicks from those angry youth.
1, 中港问题根源深厚,但媒体利用机会推波助澜。把政治问题推到族群对立,然后把族群对立再推上另一个层次。所以我一直说孔庆东当时的媒体和苹果日报根本上是一类人,表面上立场对立,但其实他们靠同样一种东西赚钱 -- 那就是来自愤青的点击率。

2, So we always think that media bosses are always influenced by political power. Actually besides political power, many “political acts” of some media organizations are actually the result of a product chain.
2, 所以我们总以为媒体老被政治势力影响,其实除了政治势力,媒体的很多“政治行为”背后其实也是一个产业链的诞生。

3, In the end I would like to remind everyone, those who “curse others as dogs” and those who “curse others as locusts” are actually the same type of people. If you change their life background, an angry youth from the mainland will be an angry youth from Hong Kong.

Tang Yinghong: Why “Under the Dome” Went Viral

China Digital Times translated psychologist Tang Yinghong’s article into English. Here is his key ideas. Tang Yinghong is a lecturer in Psychology at Leshan Normal University’s Institute of Educational Science.

Before Chai Jing’s film, most efforts to draw people’s attention or stir debate were killed by the authorities. This long-controlled, sensitive public topic suddenly saw high-profile dissemination, allowing many who have long been harmed by smog an opportunity to release long-suppressed emotions, opinions, and feelings.

This is why a video that didn’t provide new information could gain nearly unanimous support. When people watched, forwarded, and discussed, it wasn’t about updating concepts, but rather about venting. Chai Jing’s film expressed personal feelings that people for years couldn’t express personally. This is the major social psychological basis for the wide dissemination of Chai Jing’s video.

However, for another group of people who had already deeply reflected on the topic, Chai Jing’s speech was nothing but a cliche. To them, the wide dissemination “buried” more essential social and political factors, attributing smog to economic and technological factors. It is clearly dodging the inconvenient side of the story, and even carries the risk of misleading society. They would like to “reset the topic” beyond Chai Jing’s film and engage in a valuable investigation into the origin of smog and the deeper reasons behind it. This has created disagreement and conflict between the “thumbs-up” majority and the criticism of opinion leaders, which makes Chai Jing’s smog film a highly contentious public event and topic.

The writer is CEO of Beijing Kingsberry Garden Agriculture Technology Ltd, Mr. Cai Xiaopeng. This the script of a speech Mr. Cai addressed at a Central Commission for Discipline Inspection meeting with private entrepreneurs.  I thought this might be worth reading because Mr. Cai went to study law at Renmin University at 1978 and used to work at Ministry of Commerce, the State Council’s Agriculture Development Research Institute and Ministry of Agriculture. This speech was circulated in late November last year and attracted lots of attention. It is 9000 characters long and full of details of corruption. South China Morning Post has introduced this speech:

The speech's author, Cai Xiaopeng, is a retired bureaucrat now heading a fruit growing and processing firm in Beijing. His tales of rotten government attracted widespread attention not just because he and Wang worked closely together in the 1980s but also because of the ways corrupt and faceless bureaucrats openly stole from the kinds of smaller companies that the leaders are counting on driving the economy forward.
Speaking in October at a meeting partly organised by the CCDI, Cai detailed how "brazen thieves and bandits" from various government arms robbed, extorted and harassed private firms, citing his own company as an example.
He said officials would descend on a fruit farm with family members or superiors "like whirring flies" during picking season and demand to be entertained and fed before leaving with crates of free fruit.
Before the Lunar New Year or other holidays, his company would routinely receive requests from officials for money and gifts, as well as demands for cash for meals, holidays and even prostitutes. There were so many requests the company had to hire two people to handle them.
Then there was the time his firm planned to transfer a subsidiary from one Beijing district to another. The move was delayed for more than a year until the firm paid 50,000 yuan (HK$63,000) in bribes to the local tax authorities. In 2012, the firm budgeted 1 million yuan to open a downtown juice bar, leasing a 20 sq m shop for 600,000 yuan a year. It took 11 months to get three essential pieces of paperwork despite paying 100,000 yuan in bribes. By the time the permits came through, the company decided to shut down the business because the budget had run dry.
The catalogue of corruption continued with water officials threatening to fine the company 20,000 yuan for dripping taps, environmental officials demanding a 100,000 yuan fine for chimney dust and fire safety officials asking for 30,000 yuan when fire hoses failed to meet standards.
Ironically, as leaders have rolled out stringent controls on food safety after a spate of deadly scandals in recent years, they have also given officials more lucrative opportunities to extort money.
Cai said that before a food factory could operate, it needed more than 400 permits from 18 departments. Six years after his firm set up a processing plant in Shunyi district, it was still waiting for the final go-ahead to start a dried fruit production line even though the company spent millions of yuan to comply with standards.
While he acknowledged that the anti-graft campaign has drastically cut harassment from officials, Cai called for changes to a system that has become a breeding ground for what he called "rats, flies and fleas".

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